Gidday Im Lisette and work for a Landcare Network in Koroit. The issue I want to raise on behalf of our network and the farmers (not just dairy) in that network is this: there is very little shade and shelter on farms for livestock and very little funding incentives to change that. Why? Because most of the grants available for us to apply for on behalf of farmers, are tied to public benefit and/or biodiversity protection for a rare or threatened species. That immediately distances the farms from applying - because the immediate benefit is to their business even though the longer term benefit will be to natural assets of the area. Biodiversity wise much of the dairying areas are by nature of their farming over more than 100 years, low on threatened species records. So again thats a tick against them - even though many dairy areas are between high conservation sites where the threatened species would move through if shelterbelts of native plants were created on farm. So what we have is a funding situation for Landcare where the dairy farms who need a hand to build shelterbelts cant get that hand from Landcare unless something about the grants changes. Our network believes that this is an area where the leverage of the Dairy Plan on Agriculture and Environment could be brought to change this situation. Its particularly sad when farms just need a bit of help $ to get going and they arent eligible and when some of the criteria for what will be funded not only stacks the odds against them - but also puts conditions on the farm outcomes that are frankly against what is practical, achievable, and desired by dairy farms. For example - the minimum width funded for a shelterbelt (which has to be called a biodiversity corridor) is 10m with permanent fencing both sides to a standard most dairy farms dont use for internal fences. A 6m width will achieve shade, wind breaks, and biodiversity without taking out excessive pasture and needing massive expensive fencing to protect from browsing. But this is not permitted in the Victorian Landcare Grants criteria so immediately there is a barrier to access to grants other types of farming dont experience to the same degree or scale. We would like to see this change and to run programs with $ to help dairy farmers get trees.
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